The Andaman and Nicobar islands are one of the least explored lands on the planet except in modern times, when airport facilities and tourism have opened the islands to the world. Although the major shipping routes across the world cut through the islands, only a handful of them are accessible by the tourists and researchers around the world, centering around the capital city of the union territory, Port Blair, the only major seaport and airport in the union territory.
The Andaman and Nicobar islands are inhabited by various indigenous tribes as well as outsiders, whose ancestors are from mainland Indian subcontinent. The indigenous tribes in Andaman are the Jarawa, the Onge, the Great Andamanese and the Sentinelese. Out of the 4, only the Sentinelese tribe remains completely uncontacted by the rest of the world. The Great Andamanese, Jarawa and Onge tribes live in the Great Andaman islands and remain more or less connected with the outside world. But the Sentinelese remain untouched by the rest of the world even to this day.
The Sentinelese tribe are all concentrated in the North Sentinel Island only, which is a small, but large enough to remain unexplored even with the modern technology. The North Sentinel Island, and the surrounding waters are unreachable by tourists and researchers, and even by local fishermen due to a Government ban. North Sentinel Island is governed by the Sentinelese tribe on their own, and their methodology is little known to the outside world. The Indian Government has effectively cut off any possible means of contact with the Sentinelese people. The only way we know about that tribe is through some failed trials of establishing contact with them long ago.
The first time any people in the mainland encountered the Sentinelese peacefully was way back in 1991. Though after that more and more attempts were made to reach the Sentinelese island, it was impossible for the visitors to maintain any peaceful contact with the Sentinelese. The hostile nature of the Sentinelese means that whoever tries to go there are shot with bows and arrows, with poison on them, which killed 2 fishermen in 2006 and an American in 2018 who went there to preach Christianity.
Today, the Sentinelese form the last contacted people living on the planet. Their movement is restricted to the North Sentinel Island only, and they never interfere with the rest of the world. Hence, it is essential that we also let them live happily on their own in their small habitat. The Sentinelese are considered Indian people, but they never has made any contact with the Indians, nor have they known what is going on in the outside world. They are more vulnerable to diseases than any of us, and may go extinct as they may not have the immunity to defend against foreign viruses. The Indian Government has rightly left them to live alone and only maintain a distant watch for them in case of natural calamities like the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami.
Written by – Himadri Paul